WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 455 OF 2015

TN MLA suspension case

Case Description

Does the suspension of MLAs for allegedly causing a disturbance amount to a violation of their right to freedom of speech and right to freedom of occupation?

Background

On 19th February, 2015, a few members of DMDK resorted to unruly conduct while the session of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was in progress. The Speaker of the House directed the security personnel to handle the situation by asking the unruly members to leave. Immediately, other members ran to the Speaker’s podium to attack the Speaker.

Due to this uncivilised behaviour, the MLAs were suspended from the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu for allegedly obstructing the proceedings House. They were suspended for the rest of the period of the Session. Six of these MLAs challenged this Resolution before the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution.

A Privileges Committee was set up by the Speaker of the House to inquire into whether the MLAs had breached their privilege of speech. On 31st March, 2015, the Committee came to the conclusion that these members, who breached a privilege, should not only be suspended for the current session but also 10 days in the next session. The Committee also recommended that these members should not be paid their salaries or given any benefits for the suspended days. The Committee came to this decision based on video evidence, which was not provided to these members. This was a violation of natural justice principles, i.e. they were not given a fair chance to present their case.

In the writ petitions, the petitioners argued that their right to freedom of speech, right to carry any occupation and right to life and personal liberty (Article 19 and 21) were violated.


Issues

  1. Has the Resolution suspending the MLAs violated their fundamental rights under Article 19, i.e. right to freedom of speech and right to freedom of occupation?
  2. Does the suspension of salaries and benefits attached to the membership of the House amount to a violation of right to life under Article 21?
  3. Have the right to equality and principles of natural justice under Article 14 been violated due to the unfair procedure adopted by the Privileges Committee?

Resources

Latest Hearing


Judgement delivered on 12.02.2016

Judgment delivered by Justice Jasti Chelameswar. Writ Petition allowed. Resolution suspending the TN MLAs dated 31-03-2015 passed in Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly is set aside.



Judges

  • Concurring
  • Dissenting
  • Recusal/abstention
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